Meet the Artist: Mike Reed

This week we spoke to Mike Reed who is participating in this year's "Shot in the Heart of Melbourne" photographic exhibition. For six years, SITHOM has been documenting the city that we love! Opening 12 May from 7-9pm at the Victorian Artist Society in East Melbourne. Here's a bit of insight into Mike Reed's creative process, history and future plans.

Tell us a little about your exhibition.

For six years now,  The Australian Association of Street Photographers under the banner of “Shot in The Heart of Melbourne” or SITHOM holds a Street Photography exhibition that celebrates the decisive, and often indecisive, but always graceful moments that occur within our gritty, yet beautiful city.

I am one of 21 diverse and enthusiastic photographers who have focused on the eclectic hub that our city is today,        “… the photos are not just street style; they capture ephemeral moments — raw, unrehearsed and completely unique. Shot in the Heart of Melbourne is an artistic, candid homage to the people that bring this city to life each day. “ (Broadsheet)

How did you first get involved in art?

Drawing, sketching and creating things always underlined my activities so at age18 years, architecture studies at RMIT was my aim. But then circumstances changed, so off to full time work. So next was to be an art director in an ad agency. Part time study was out so but then settled into Television Ad production department … then left to train as a film editor and never looked back I had one of the top end post production companies, MRPPP!  Two offices, Melbourne and Sydney with 42 great staff. But always I carried a camera  and saw  everything through that during my precious free time.

What kind of creative patterns, routines, or rituals do you have?

I keep a visual diary, a new book each year, and have it with me (as my camera) to note, or sketch an idea or hatch a concept. I use my phone as well to record shots to revisit for better light My creative eye  is a very large collector dish.

I now keep a ideas folder on my computer too to flick pictures into from all the blog and newsletters etc. I research and read up on a subject I plan to shoot.

I enjoy problems and finding solutions through ideas. I guess I was always a kind of artsy butterfly …flitting from ‘flower to flower”, sipping the “creative” nectar and loving the cross pollination. Thinking out side the square … there must be a better way …See, watch, think, read, daydream, look, imagine. See.

A film in 1968 that totally enriched my creative DNA was a film by the great Saul Bass “Why Man Creates.” The “25-minute film outlines a trajectory of creativity, aka the process of turning ideas into something more tangible, through illustration, documentary footage, image collages, acted bits, voiceover, and more.

How does living and working in Melbourne influence your work?

It makes me try harder… to have a unique voice. We are Australian. Special. Tell the world of our home stories, thoughts, ideas. “Vive the difference”.

Oh and being from the antipodes, we have to travel so far for inspiration too but with the net and social media you can spread the word but that it a big process too.

Who or what do you turn to for inspiration on days when creativity just isn’t flowing?

I review my visual diaries, ideas folder, my library, my magazines (I was a junkie with these), visit a book shop, MagNation, art galleries, student exhibitions are best.

What is your favorite artwork of yours and why?

I think we all need a little push sometimes. There are too many “likes” , high fives, good job… all this can produce a fog of mediocrity.

Not enough good critique. Accept criticism. I relish it. As I have worked in film, I love the production team, the collective as opposed to  “the monk in the cell.”

Each week I shoot photos to a brief with a Street Photography Flickr group

A favourite shot of mine is the “Urban Attitude “ photograph.  I submitted a shot and photojournalist from Germany, Michael May said “Mike, you can do better!!!” I had respect for him and his judgment. So went out again… waited and scored a great shot (IMO)

What is your favourite artwork of someone else’s, and why?

Apart from the great street photographers….I love Gregory Crewdson, Jeff Wall and also Tracey Moffats’ “Scarred for Life” Series. All use great story telling through photography. I would like to do 12 scenes of my formative years and create a photograph of each. I would make it like a film production with location props talent and crew.

What creative medium would you love to pursue but haven’t yet?

I would love to sculpture. The process has the same kinetic qualities at film. Sculpture is a moving, responsive malleable art form. Like architecture… you can revise, adopt ideas. Sometimes photography is too instant in the formation though conceptual and portraiture work is not so.

What’s your advice for up and coming artists?

Go to art shows, travel, watch, see learn, keep a visual diary, write notes.  Revise and review. Keep trying…. never give up. Be passionate. Be focused. When I ran my post business it was a service and so it never closed. It does really take 5 years full time to have good success. You can do anything but you have to be extremely focused. My Motto was “Don’t go to lunch."


"Shot in the Heart of Melbourne" opens Friday 12 May from 7-9pm at the Victoria Artists Society in East Melbourne.

For more info and to follow Mike: Website: mikereedphotography.comEmail: mail@mikereedphotoraphy.comInstagram: @mikereedphoto

--- Words: Julia HowlandImages: Courtesy of the gallery/artist.

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